How Jennifer Grey Was Assisted by Jamie Lee Curtis in Becoming Gwen Shamblin (exclusive)

How Jennifer Grey was assisted by Jamie Lee Curtis in becoming Gwen Shamblin (Exclusive)

Get ready for a side of Jennifer Grey you’ve never seen before. Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation is a Lifetime original film starring the actress who rose to fame in Dirty Dancing and Prime Video’s Red Oaks. Grey plays the title character of Gwen Shamblin Lara, a Christian diet guru and controversial religious leader who died in a tragic accident in the year 2021.

“Her hair grew longer and thicker as she gained strength. The longer one’s hair, the nearer one is to the divine “What Grey thinks of Lara.

It was the hairstyle change in particular that swayed Grey to accept the role. “Well, I’ll do this section if you put it this way, I said. First and foremost, I need a lot of wigs, and I know that wigs can be quite pricey. And I know that if I put on a shoddy wig, it wouldn’t have helped, “The ET host Matt Cohen, explains.

The best wigmaker in the business, and the best dialect instructor Grey knows, Elizabeth Himelstein, were both necessities. So, this is where Jamie Lee Curtis comes in. “After discussing my options with me, Jamie Lee Curtis remarked, “Well, you have to go with Rob Pickens.” In short, he makes the best wigs. He recently styled my Halloween wigs, including an Ana de Armas ‘Blonde’ wig.” According to Grey, “when she instructs me with that type of harsh voice, I do what she says, and so I called him.”

Finally, Grey says she wanted to record Lara’s story because she wanted to preserve “this woman’s voice in the world,” a reference to Lara’s significance and the fame she attained through her religiously inspired diet program and church.

How Jennifer Grey was assisted by Jamie Lee Curtis in becoming Gwen Shamblin (Exclusive)

Lara, a well-known figure in Tennessee, rose to prominence after establishing the Weigh Down Workshop in 1986 and, in 1999, the Remnant Fellowship Church, both of which have become Christian-based diet programs with widespread popularity.

There were risks associated with following Lara’s methods, according to professionals who were worried about the rigorous diet and the purported demands that members isolate themselves from others who did not follow her practices or even got overweight.

That she “was the voice of anorexia” was something that “really struck me as disturbing,” Grey adds. She was the embodiment of the critical voice in one’s head: “I have never had an eating disorder, but I have so many friends who have been so severely damaged by that inner critic of perfectionism and thinking that there’s a body shape and size and number on the scale that will redeem you, that will make you lovable to God, to other people, and to yourself.”

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Lara “truly tied the knot with feelings of guilt and low self-esteem and declared, “This is it.” When faced with a problem, God is the solution.” The grey carries on. To this end, it “developed into some pretty cult-like practices,” as the actress puts it.

The church was raided as part of an investigation into the death of a young child named Josef Smith, and Lara’s antics and accumulation of wealth eventually led to opponents, who accused her of abuse. (Both Joseph and Sonya Smith, his parents, were found guilty of murder and given mandatory life sentences.)

In May of 2021, Lara lost her life when the jet her husband, Joe, was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff, killing both of them along with their son-in-law and four other Church officials. The Way Down God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin, a documentary series on HBO Max, brought new attention to Lara and her church by exploring her legacy and the charges of abuse that have been made against her in recent years.

As for Grey, she is “just so glad they offered me this opportunity” with Lifetime. “In a word, I adore my occupation. Everything happened so quickly and I was the only one who could talk at the time. It was all quite dramatic.”

Eventually, the effort and care paid off in the form of a successful outcome. “They’d see me coming with that wig and that accent and be like, ‘Uh oh, here she comes.'” Grey describes re-creating Lara’s iconic hairstyle and demeanor in full costume on set.

Although Grey’s performance as Frances “Baby” Houseman in Dirty Dancing (1987) will always be remembered as one of her most famous film roles, she did take a moment to reflect on the role that launched her career. A third film in the series, following a sequel and a made-for-TV musical adaptation, will have her as the lead and be produced by her in 2020.

However, Grey has lately stated that she will only participate in a sequel if it is “amazing.”

During her interview with ET, she provided further context for that remark. “I feel terrible now that I used the word “perfect” the other day. She now explains that the original film “was so emotionally fulfilling and it was so relaxing, and it was about the prospect of two people meeting and influencing each other’s lives and how they perceive themselves forever,” so the sequel would have to be just as heartfelt and deep.”

That, in Grey’s opinion, are “some of the crucial ingredients” for developing a follow-up. And if that happens, she says, “Baby will be back at the Kellerman’s, maybe you’ll call her Frances, maybe you’ll call her Baby, and there will be dancing, and there will be a rebirth the same way she got to [previously].”

Rubal is a dynamic and talented entertainment writer, passionate about all things pop culture. From celebrity gossip to film and television reviews, his writing is always engaging and informative. In addition to his work as an entertainment writer, he is a fitness freak and an optimistic guy. You can find him working out at the gym and listening to his favorite songs when he's not busy writing.